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Today’s Truth

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:10

Friend to Friend

I just got my braces off…again.

I have had braces on my upper teeth three times. Count them. One. Two. Three.

As the orthodontist explained, “Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

As soon as he said those words, I felt convicted. I have a tendency to go back to the way I was.

We all do.

Karen (not her real name) admitted to single handedly destroying her marriage with passive aggressive coldness, destructive words, and disrespect of the worst kind. After her husband walked away from the marriage, she had a Holy Spirit moment and realized what she had done. Karen’s heart softened and she vowed never be that woman again.

She immersed herself in Bible study and began to pray for her ex-husband even though the marriage was over. Karen took on the beautiful holy glow of a woman who knew she was totally forgiven and completely loved by God. Miraculously, her ex-husband saw the change, and the marriage was restored!

However, after a few years, the destructive behavior began to creep back in.

A word here.

A cold shoulder there.

A retreating into self for weeks at a time.

Ten years after the miraculous restoration, the marriage crashed and burned.

“Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

Jesus saw this tendency to fall into old ways when He cleaned out the temple. In the beginning of his ministry, after his first miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding of Cana, He traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

“In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle, he scattered the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market.’” (John 2:14-16 NIV)

Three years later, during his last week of life on earth, Jesus came upon the unholy mess again.

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13 NIV).

How did the corruption happen the second time? I don’t think it happened all at once. After Jesus cleared out the temple initially, I suspect it stayed that way for a time. But one day, a moneychanger set up his table. Then another brought in a few birds, followed by a couple of sheep, and then here came a cow.

The next thing you know, the temple wasn’t any different than it was before Jesus cleared it out and cleaned it up three years earlier. In three years it had reverted back to an unholy mess.

And God whispers in my ear: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV).

Sometimes I am that messy temple.

Swept-clean sinful behavior, ungodly thoughts, and jump-off-the-cliff emotions are itching to creep back in at all times. It is up to me (and to you) to keep the temple clean.

Perhaps you’ve had a Holy Spirit moment at some point in your life—a moment that caused you to make a major lifestyle change.

But for the moment to maintain momentum, we need to be constantly aware of our tendency to revert…to go back to the way we were.

I am so thankful that Jesus went back to clean out the temple a second time. It lets me know that He will graciously return to my messy self again and again with broom in hand.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to go back to the way I was. If you’re willing to take a few moments and ask God if there is something you’ve allowed to creep back in, join me in praying Psalm 51 in the prayer below.

Then leave a comment and say, “I’m doing it today!”

Let’s Pray

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and restore a steadfast spirit within me.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Can you think of any behaviors or habits that you have committed to change in the past, but that have crept back into your life?

If so, today’s task is simple, but not easy. Renew your commitment to clean out the temple once again. Then cooperate with the Holy Spirit to keep your resolve. Remember, God’s mercies are new every morning.

Related Resources

Nothing keeps old habits from creeping back in like prayer. One of the ways I keep my marriage strong is by praying Scripture over my husband. In Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe, I map out sixteen landmarks to help you consistently and effectively cover your husband in powerful prayer. From his mind and the thoughts he thinks, to his feet and the path he takes. This resource will change your marriage and your man…and even you.

I’d love for you to come visit me over at www.sharonjaynes.com and check out my resources for building a strong marriage.

29 Responses to “When You Don’t Want to Go Back to the Way You Were”

  1. Jean says:

    I’m doing it today. And again on Sunday as I rededicate my life and follow in Baptism that You might create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

    Thanks, Sharon, this is just what I needed this day and every day!

  2. Shannon says:

    The Holy Spirit knew that I needed to hear this today! I had been in deep prayer and scripture this whole week trying to not let my old habits come back again, this devotion proves God is listening to my prayers! Thank you Sharon for being a faithful servant of Christ and writing this devotion!

    “I’m doing it today!”

  3. Alicia says:

    +Thank God that he is forgiving and merciful. I need a clean heart everyday. There are some sins that I continue to commit and ask for forgiveness everyday. It seems wrong. It’s a hurdle I just can’t seem to get past, but he wants me to and it should be easy.

  4. Juline says:

    I’m doing it today!! This was an on-time devotion! Thank you!

  5. Shelby says:

    I’m doing it today!

  6. Julie says:

    My prayer life is lacking, filling my time with tv, playing stupid games on my phone just occupying my time with everything else but God. Go to church sun am & pm,ready to face the week doing good Monday and Tuesday, but by Wednesday I’m spiraling downward. I read the Word with little prayer, I’m ready for a change! Thanks for your words of encouragement! I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!

  7. Judi B says:

    Please protect me from a drink or drug Oh Lord just for today! Remind me that my body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit❤️

  8. Terri says:

    Oh how that ‘memory’ is strong indeed! I must be convicted every day by the Holy Spirit within to help me abandon those self-sabotaging habits and no matter what life throws at me, I will not become the victim again. Lord help me to walk strong and with certainty, holding tightly the hand of Jesus!

  9. Billie says:

    Lord as we go visit my sister today in the hospital help us to be strong and wrap your loving arms around us. Be there especially for our sister. In Jesus name Amen

  10. Harolene says:

    God is so awesome. There is always some cleaning up to do. It is so easy to have bad habits creep back in your life. That’s how satin works. Sneaky. Praise God I can go to God in prayer for forgiveness. Thank you.

  11. Sue says:

    Right on time for me today! I have been praying for deliverance from a really bad habit, and while I know that all things are possible with God, this reinforces the fact that some responsibility for the change rests with me. Thank you!

  12. Sue says:

    Right on time for me! Thank you and God bless you!

  13. shona says:

    I’m doing it today! *in Christ Jesus Holy Name…Amen*

  14. Judy says:

    I gave up hope 42 years ago when my son was diagnosed with leukemia. I didn’t believe he would live. Now he is diagnosed with stage four melonoma. I am struggling hard to have faith that he will be cured again. Thank you for your gentle reminder that each day is a new day with new hope. Thank you for reminding me that I must cling to Gods promises.

  15. Kim says:

    Much needed with a bad attitude I struggle with! thanks for a good reminder!

  16. Deb says:

    I’m doing it today!

    The fussing and criticism of my husband rolls off my tongue like an open dam. Not to him, mind you, but I know he feels it.
    “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:12 could just as easily read to me” Restore to me the joy of my wedding day, and uphold the bonds of matrimony with a willing and joyful heart.” Thank you for the reminder.

    Incidentally, I need to get braces again too….. ugh! Yes, those teeth do have a memory. 🙂

  17. JoAnn says:

    Spot on for me. I have been trying all week to change those bad habits and Stay that way. The Lord is blessing me at all times. So far I have stayed within my boundaries of this journey. Without him I could not do this. Thank you Jesus.

  18. Anna says:

    I’m doing it today! Thank you. I have been struggling with a few bad habits that keep coming back. Your message is very timely. God bless you.

  19. Robbie says:

    I’m doing it today

  20. Coleen says:

    I am doing it today! And probably tomorrow and the next day and the next😀

  21. julie says:

    ty for this. oh there is several..(I am doing it today).this one just sticks out…(need to renew our fostering license soon and hubby keeps bringing up the past in my face/stupid mistakes/putting me down seems like on fostering kids. (had a few troubled kids all older.one shoud of never been let out) (even though it basically was just me for the most part raising them while he hid away (tv, went downstairs or garage or work.) heaven forbid if I went for a walk or went to read. he would have a conniption. }. like he was the perfect parent he was the good cop lets them do whatever. their”friend’ ……”create in me a clean heart oh God and renew a right spirit within me”

  22. Rebecca Jones says:

    Don’t look back your not going that way is a new favorite saying.

  23. Jeni says:

    To all who struggle
    God bless you all for honest hearts GOD LOVES the true heart and blesses your repentance
    Thank you sisters in Christ stay strong sisters because sisters it is in your weakness JESUS reveals himself
    You can over come !YOU HAVE VICTORY

  24. Cristina says:

    I am doing it today . Thank you.

  25. Lana says:

    I’m doing it today Sharon! I can’t allow Satan to twist my thoughts into lies any longer. I’m starting today to live the victorious life Jesus promised. Thank you for this! What a timely reminder!

  26. Leasa says:

    I’m doing it today! I never want to go back to that ugly place in my life. Thank you for sharing this today

  27. Kim says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH SHARON! THIS IS SO REFRESHING TO BE REMINDED THAT I AM NOT ALONE IN MY DAILY STRUGGLE TO BE THE BEST PERSON I AM CALLED TO BE. I OFTEN FORGET THAT THE SAME STRUGGLES THAT TORE ME DOWN THE DAY BEFORE WILL COME AT ME ONCE AGAIN. PLEASE PRAY THAT I WILL BE A BETTER WIFE AS WELL. THAT I WILL USE MY WORDS FOR GOOD AND NOT FOR EVIL, AS SUBTLE AS THE NUANCES MAY BE. LET ME BUILD MY HUBBY UP AND NOT TEAR HIM DOWN BY THE CRITICAL THOUGHTS AND REMARKS SATAN BRINGS SO QUICKLY TO MY TONGUE. IN JESUS NAME I PRAY.

  28. Candice says:

    I am doing it today, and everyday with Jesus at my side. Thank You!!

  29. Paula says:

    I’m doing it today! So glad I found this older devotional in my email history. Was up too early to receive today’s devotional yet. I forward these out daily to a group of 21 women so I wanted to start out early. What a timely message for me today! God knows it all! Thank you so much!

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